Secret Single Behavior and Brussels Sprout Quinoa Gratin

brussels sprout quinoa gratin

One of my favorite Sex and the City episodes discusses secret single behavior, which is something that both men and women can probably relate to. After Carrie moves in with Aidan she talks with her friends about the loss of her alone time, aka the loss of time for her secret single behaviors, such as standing in the kitchen reading fashion magazines while eating a tower of saltines with grape jelly.

I’m fortunate that my relationship has never involved much humility. We both realize how ridiculous the other one is, so nothing surprises us too much. At the same time, I do notice my behavior shift a bit when he’s out of town. Since we’re currently right smack dab in the middle of prime deer hunting season, the past few weeks have brought on a lot of secret single behavior opportunities.

brussels sprout quinoa gratin

Like when I dramatically belt out Taylor Swift songs at the top of my lungs while in the shower. Or when I sit in my underwear and watch cooking shows while eating stale toast. Or when I get out some Christmas trinkets for a few hours just to see how it feels (hint: it feels AMAZING).

These are all hypothetical examples. Totally.

brussels sprout quinoa gratin

A single behavior that’s NOT so secret? Pretty much every day when the boy’s away I eat a super weird experimental meal. Sure, we experiment when we cook together, but when he’s gone our kitchen transforms into a scientific laboratory where meat-lovers go to die. It’s all about things like tofu, quinoa, kasha, barley, and embracing the green and leafy.

More often than not these experiments highlight the only thing I have found that the boy will absolutely not eat. Brussels sprouts are known to polarize the general population, but our home is especially divided. I love them, LOVE them. They’re just so darn cute, with their little baby cabbage form, and then there’s that fun texture, and don’t even get me started on the endless options for preparation…what’s not to love!?

brussels sprout quinoa gratin

On the other side of the brussels sprout spectrum stands the boy, who says they taste like dirt and sulfur. When we started dating I was all, “I’ll make brussels sprouts for you and I’ll change your mind, you just wait and see!” Welp, I made them for him, and he kindly ate one, but it did not go well. I’m happy we made it past that blip of a date.

Last weekend I decided to expand my brussels sprout horizon with a gratin of sorts. Since I wanted something substantial to have for my weekday lunches, I decided to add quinoa to the mix and bake it all together in a sort of mac and cheese brussels sprout gratin type thing. Ya dig?

The cheese sauce for this recipe is very similar to my Double Tomato Pepperjack Macaroni Bake. It’s a super easy sauce that starts with a roux and lends itself well to experimentation with different cheeses and spices, so play away.

brussels sprout quinoa gratin

The brussels sprouts are slightly roasted first, and then cook fully in the gratin. When all is said and done, the sprouts have just the slightest bite to them. I love the textural combination of the sprouts mixed with the quinoa and smooth sauce. The parmesan and crispy bread crumbs on top are just extra credit, really.

Another secret single behavior? Eating this gratin right out of the pan. I ate lunch at 2:00 on Sunday, then I cut a piece of the gratin for photographs around 3:00. It was so cheesy, creamy and dreamy, I just kept lifting up the fork for pictures and finding the bites disappear into my belly. This, my friends, is what secret single behavior is all about.

Secret Single Behavior and Brussels Sprout Quinoa Gratin
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Cheesy quinoa, nutty roasted brussels sprouts, and crispy bread crumbs on top. Healthy comfort food at its finest!
Recipe type: Main Course, Casserole
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Serves: 6
  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 1 pound brussels sprouts, quartered
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups low-fat milk
  • 1 cup gruyere, shredded
  • ½ cup fontina, shredded
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 slice whole wheat bread, processed into crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the quinoa, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed.
  3. Toss the brussels sprouts with ½ tablespoon of olive oil and roast for 10-15 minutes, until just starting to brown. They will continue to cook in the gratin, so you don’t want to overcook them at this stage.
  4. Reduce oven heat to 350
  5. Toss the roasted sprouts with the quinoa, thyme, and parsley.
  6. Melt the butter over medium heat, then whisk in the flour. Pour milk into the saucepan, bring to a light boil, and whisk constantly for 5 minutes until thickened.
  7. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the gruyere, fontina, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir into the quinoa/sprout mixture.
  8. Heat the olive oil over medium heat, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Stir in the breadcrumbs, and cook for 2-3 minutes until slightly browned and crisp.
  9. Pour the quinoa/sprout mixture into an 8×8-inch dish, then with the parmesan and breadcrumbs.
  10. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes, until the top is golden. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before cutting in.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ⅙th recipe Calories: 353 Fat: 17.2g Saturated fat: 8.3g Carbohydrates: 34.1g Sodium: 442mg Fiber: 4.8g Protein: 17.5g Cholesterol: 42mg

23 Responses to “Secret Single Behavior and Brussels Sprout Quinoa Gratin”

  1. Anita at Hungry Couple — November 10, 2012 @ 8:11 am (#)

    What an interesting recipe. I’ve pinned it for the next time my Mr. is away. I can get him to eat his veggies, including Brussels sprouts, but the grains are a tougher sell. My meals alone tend to be meat free whereas he would look at this and assume it was a side dish. :)

    • Veggie — November 10, 2012 @ 12:29 pm (#)

      You’ll have to let me know what you think! You could always leave out the quinoa, cut down the cheese sauce, and just make a straightforward gratin – then it really would be a side dish, and maybe you and your Mr. could both enjoy :)

  2. Devon — November 15, 2012 @ 8:44 am (#)

    Katie! I wondered onto your blog looking for that peanut butter banana muffin recipe I remember seeing, when I saw this Brussels Sprout recipe. Your posts always make me laugh, and realize how similar we are in the kitchen! I also have a love of Brussels Sprouts, and just last night I made my own Brussels Sprout casserole experiment-not as fancy as yours, but it was good. I definitely want to try your version with quinoa next time. Also, I cut the Brussels sprouts in half and steamed them briefly before baking. You could blanch them instead too – just allows you to have bigger pieces without being undercooked.

    • Veggie — November 15, 2012 @ 9:12 am (#)

      I’m so happy you love brussels sprouts too! We will definitely need to bond over this next time you’re in MN. I usually just cut brussels sprouts in half and roast them with olive oil, lemon, and walnuts. Next time I make a casserole I will need to try it with blanched bigger pieces – good idea! :)

  3. Rachel — November 18, 2012 @ 7:57 pm (#)

    Katie! This looks sooo delicious. I love the idea of “health-ifying” something as heavy as a gratin with quinoa and brussels sprouts. Great idea!

    In case you are looking for another brussels sprout recipe, our go-to method is riiiiiiidiculously delicious. Let’s just say it involves brown butter.

    Start by halving all your little sprouts, then toss them in a dry, heated pan over medium-high heat. We usually try to start them out by being cut side down, but it’s not so crucial that you need to agonize over it. Toss them occasionally in the pan until they start caramelizing and turning dark brown. The best stage is when they almost look like they are going to burn. Don’t worry. They won’t. At this point, pour the brown butter you already prepared over the entire pan (I don’t know how much exactly… just be generous with the amount). It will sizzle like you are deglazing the pan. Also add a splash or two of cider vinegar. At this point we also usually throw in some minced garlic and salt and pepper. Let the brown butter bubble a bit and it will continue to cook the sprouts, which you can test for done-ness with a fork. Once they are done you can remove and serve! We sometimes top it with parmesan or squeeze some lemon over the top of them (the lemon will discolor the leaves, however)… but we usually just gobble them up as-is.

    Enjoy! I’m sure we will love the recipe when I inevitably make it at some point this week. Thanks for sharing it!

    • Veggie — November 19, 2012 @ 11:46 am (#)

      Oh wow Rachel. I’m obsessed with brown butter in baked goods, but I’ve never used it in actual meal recipes. I am for SURE going to make that recipe, and I might just try to get Ryan to give them another try too…thanks! :)

  4. Lynne — November 24, 2012 @ 9:59 pm (#)

    We made this dish as a vegetarian side for Thanksgiving and everyone in my veggie-hating family ate it and LOVED it! We roasted the brussels sprouts first to make them extra sweet (and they requested more cheese next time, of course), but this one’s a TOTAL winner! Thanks!!

    • Veggie — November 26, 2012 @ 3:40 pm (#)

      Wonderful! I’m so glad you liked it. Thank you for sharing :)

  5. Pingback: Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes with Peanut Butter Syrup | Veggie and the Beast

  6. Pingback: Roasted Brussel Sprout and Millet Casserole | Naturally Ella

  7. Ani Mendez — March 20, 2013 @ 1:29 pm (#)

    I really want to do this, i wait for the moment to be alone and make veggie things for me, my husband is a meat lover!

    Hello from Spain :D

  8. Pingback: Friday Link Dump: Recipes I’ve Pinned | Great Scott!

  9. Denise | Chez Danisse — March 31, 2013 @ 8:53 pm (#)

    This is secret single behavior I can embrace. The combination of creamy and crunchy textures looks superb. What a great way to enjoy Brussels sprouts and quinoa.

  10. Pingback: Spinach and Mushroom Alfredo Lasagna | Veggie and the Beast

  11. Pingback: Butternut Barley and Cheddar Gratin | Veggie and the Beast

  12. Tabitha — September 29, 2013 @ 7:08 pm (#)

    This sounds so yummy! I’m making it tonight, subbing cheddar and parmesan instead of gruyere/goat. FYI, in your step-by-step instructions, you mention adding parmesan with the bread crumbs, but you don’t have parmesan in your ingredient list. :-)

    • Veggie — September 29, 2013 @ 8:53 pm (#)

      Let me know what you think! And thanks for noticing the parmesan omission – fixed :)

      • Tabitha — September 30, 2013 @ 10:57 am (#)

        It turned out good! The sprouts were a little bitter (I used the shredded stuff from Trader Joe’s), so I think I may roast them before adding to the dish next time. I loved the garlicky breadcrumbs on top, although the olive oil and garlic splattered like crazy while I was trying to heat them up! Oops. :)

  13. Pingback: brussel sprout casserole | homegrown kitchen

  14. Melissa — January 18, 2014 @ 7:28 pm (#)

    Just made this for dinner! So delicious (despite my lack of goat cheese)! Even my Brussels sprouts-hating hubby ate seconds. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Karin — January 21, 2015 @ 2:07 pm (#)

    I’m going to try to make this for dinner tonight, been drooling over the recipe for some time now. But I don’t have Gruyere on hand. Do you think I could use all goat cheese? Any other cheese substitutions you might suggest? Thanks!!

    • Katie — January 21, 2015 @ 2:35 pm (#)

      Swiss, Mozzarella, or Fontina would be great! You could do all goat cheese, but I kind of like to have a bit of variety. Let me know how it turns out!

  16. Robin — November 25, 2016 @ 1:24 pm (#)

    I made this yesterday for Thanksgiving, it was very tasty but the next time I make this I will half the amount of quinoa and double the Brussel sprouts.   There was so much quinoa in the dish the Brussel sprouts were difficult to find, obviously I realize this is just a preference of mine since I love roasted Brussel sprouts!